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Bone. 1998 Jun;22(6):651-8.

Mechanical properties of ewe vertebral cancellous bone compared with histomorphometry and high-resolution computed tomography parameters.

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Laboratoire de Mécanique des Solides, INSA, Lyon, France.


The goal of the present study was to determine if a high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) system with 150 microns resolution was sufficient to predict mechanical properties in ewe lumbar vertebrae. To answer this question, we used a triangular comparison between: HRCT; biomechanics (compression and shear tests); and histomorphometry, which was the reference method for the measurements of morphometric parameters. Two dissected lumbar vertebrae (L-4 and L-5) from 32 ewes were used. Both compressive and shear properties correlated significantly with amount of bone and structural parameters evaluated by histomorphometry (bone volume/tissue volume, trabecular thickness, trabecular separation), but no significant correlation was found with the trabecular number. With our shear test involving the trabecular architecture itself more significant correlations were found with the node-strut analysis parameters than from the compressive test. Significant correlations were also found between HRCT and histological parameters (bone volume/tissue volume, bone surface/bone volume, trabecular separation, trabecular number, total strut length, number of nodes, and number of termini). Correlations between HRCT structural parameters and mechanical properties on L-4 were of the same magnitude as the correlations between the histomorphometric structural parameters and mechanical results on L-5 but with the remarkable advantage the HRCT is a noninvasive method. In spite of the resolution (150 microns) of our HRCT system, which entailed mainly an enlargement of the thinnest trabeculae or their loss during the segmentation process, we obtained coherent relationships between mechanical and tomographic parameters. The thinnest trabeculae probably had little effect on the mechanical strength. Also, this type of resolution allows us to consider the possibility of perfecting an in vivo HRCT system. However, physical density and bone mineral density correlated much better with strength than either classical histomorphometric or tomographic parameters. The current conclusion is fairly negative with respect to the ability of HRCT to assess mechanical properties nondestructively as compared with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. But, the noninvasive nature of the imaging modality and the capacity for three-dimensional imaging at arbitrary orientation make HRCT a promising tool in the quantitative assessment of cancellous architecture.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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